How should I conduct myself in gradings?
Posted on February 16th, 2014


Original Blog date - November 24, 2013 · by modernmartialartz

We have decided to write this article to advise people of the correct ‘way’ to conduct themselves in a grading situation.  These guidelines are to be followed at all times and are the correct course of conduct for every class you train in.  However for Grading purposes, if you do or do not follow these guidelines where appropriate you will find yourself losing a lot of marks and even failing your grading in severe cases.  These cases include, but are not limited to poor etiquette, bad sportsmanship or lack of self-control.

Right then, so what SHOULD I be doing in my grading?

If you receive a letter from the Chief Instructor and you do not attend your grading, then this is classed as a FAIL and will be entered onto your record and in your licence as such.  If you cannot attend your grading for a genuine reason such as work commitments, then you MUST inform the Chief Instructor as soon as possible, BEFORE the grading.  There ARE no exceptions, as of January 2014, any persons failing to comply with this request, will be marked as having FAILED their grading in their licence.  You will NEVER be invited to a Grading if you are ‘not ready’.

When you arrive for your grading, please be on your best behaviour, be prompt and be clean and smart, with a clean, pressed appropriate uniform.  If there is a problem with you having the correct uniform, the Chief Instructor must be informed as soon as possible.  The correct way to wear your uniform is as follows.

Kickboxing  FULL CONTACT SUIT. The tunic must not be worn OVER your pants. It should be tucked into your contact trousers.  The belt should be worn around the ribbed top of the contact pants and the tunic top ‘bagged out’ over it.

Karate  FULL WHITE DOGI. The Gi must be worn left to right wrap over with all strings and ties concealed within the uniform.  The belt worn around the waist (not the hips) keeping the ties from view.  Ladies should wear a full round neck white T-Shirt under their Gi top (no exceptions) and males should wear nothing under their GI top (no exceptions).

Should you feel the need to ‘straighten’ your uniform/Gi whilst in the grading, then you do NOT need to ask permission to do so, you simply bow and turn AWAY from the Grading Panel and redress yourself as quickly as possible, turn back, bow again and resume what you were doing.  Should you need to re-tie your belt or adjust it, then you need to do the above, but upon tying the final knot, you should lower to one knee (the right knee will be on the floor).

If you have T shirts and Hoody’s please feel free to bring them with you to your Grading.  The Chief Instructor will notify you when it is ok to wear such items of clothing, dependant on the weather.  For outside running, these will be standard attire.  You will also remove your belt should you need to run/train outside the Dojo grounds.

Be polite and respectful to everyone, including other students and staff who are there on the day, not just MMA Instructors or the Grading Panel Members.

The minimum requirement for equipment is a gum shield (for everyone) and a groin guard (for males).  If you do not have these with you on the day, you may be asked to stop your grading and you will achieve a FAIL pass mark as you were not suitably prepared.  You SHOULD have full equipment for sparring in normal circumstances.  However we appreciate this can be expensive and take some time to acquire, so ensure you have the basics listed above at every grading.

Please go to the toilet BEFORE your grading, as toilet breaks impede the grading for everyone and can lose you marks depending on what you are being assessed on at the time.  If you really MUST go to the toilet, please try to choose a suitable opportunity to ask the Panel.

Upon entering the room, bow to the room AND the Panel members and line up.  Stay silent and resume a ‘ready’ position.  For Kickboxing this is a shoulder width stance with hands behind back.  For Karate, this is your standard ‘Yoi’ stance.  Stay in this position until you are asked to change it, for example ‘left fighting stance’.  Please remain silent unless spoken to by a Panel Member.

Refer to ALL Panel members as Sensei (Sen-Say) or their appropriate title.  For example a 5th Dan would be referred to as Shihan (She-han) when you speak to them.  Please address them in ALL conversation with this title.  You will be notified at the beginning of the grading of their rank.  Should you forget these titles, do not panic, simply use ‘Sir’ or ‘Miss’ in the interim.

To address a Panel Member, raise your hand and wait until acknowledged.  Address them correctly with their appropriate title and upon completion of your query; ensure you bow to the Panel Member you have been addressing.  Then resume whatever you were doing before you spoke to them, or whatever the other students have been told to do whilst you were speaking to them.

Notify the panel of any and all injuries and medical conditions on the day.  If you have medication that you may require in the course of the grading, you MUST provide it on the day and you MUST leave it on the Panels’ table at the front.  If you need to use it, quickly address the Panel and walk AROUND the assessment in progress and not THROUGH it to get to the table.  Use the medication and resume your grading as quickly as possible.  Do not take liberties with this reason as the Panel will know this.

Remember your intitial position you are asked to stand in and return to this at all times you are asked to ‘line back up’ or ‘straighten your lines’.  Should you be asked to ‘straighten your gi/uniform’ then observe the rules above for doing so.

Once the grading starts, ALWAYS work to your highest standard at all times.  Should you be fatigued, do not stop, sit down or refuse to carry on.  If you do then you are liable to fail your grading.  If you are tired, take a deep breath and control your breathing at all times.  Proper breathing will ensure you get through the ‘tough parts’ of your grading.  It is YOUR responsibility to ensure your fitness levels are high enough for the grade you have been invited to attempt.  If you feel the need to rest, remember this is an assessment.  You need to control your breathing and ‘get on with it’.  Should you feel dizzy, lightheaded, faint or develop pain in your head or chest, then you should advise a Panel Member as soon as possible.   They are all trained First Aiders and they will assist you, should you require it.

If at any point in your grading you are unsure of something, then put your hand up, address a Panel Member appropriately and ask them again.  You will NOT lose marks for this.

If you forget something, then you need to bow and kneel down until a Panel Member addresses you to enable you to attempt it again/or give you some assistance.

If you are ‘in the way’ of another student, then make room for them.  If you are attempting to move past another student and they are still in the way, then wait for them to move.  If they do not move, then adjust your position until you are in a better one to carry on with your demonstration.  Do NOT at any point make contact with that student.  You can fail your Grading for this.

Show and exorcise complete control at all times throughout your Grading.  Excessive contact in sparring and lack of self-control in physical demonstrations with a partner (i.e. self-defense or jutsu) are common reasons for failure in Gradings.

So what are the big DON’T’s in my grading?

Do NOT consume alcohol or any other substance on the day of the Grading.  You will be asked to leave and you will incur a FAIL mark on your licence.  You will also be subject to our Code of Conduct Disciplinary Procedures as well, which could result in expulsion from the Academy.  If you have consumed alcohol on the night before and the Panel deem you are unfit to grade because of this, then you will be asked to leave.  This will also incur a FAIL pass-mark on your Licence.

Do NOT eat or drink in the Dojo.

If you have to wear training shoes for medical reasons, do NOT wear outside shoes.  Your training shoes MUST be ones that are only worn for training on the Dojo floor.

Do NOT speak in your Grading unless you are spoken to by a Panel Member/Instructor.  This includes ALL interactions with other students once the Grading had begun.

Do NOT swear or curse in your grading even if you are under physical duress or distress.  Swearing in a grading can result in a FAIL mark on your licence.

Do NOT walk off the mats or turn your back on the panel without good reason.

Do NOT ignore the panel or their Instructions.

Do NOT question any decision or comment made by the Panel.  Accept it courteously and get on with what you were doing.

Do NOT ‘encourage’ other students when you are attempting a Grading yourself.  Get on with your own attempts and leave others to it.  Exceptions to this are when you are attempting your 6 hour Black Belt assessment.  You CAN help others who are attempting it with you so long as it is verbal in nature.  You can also encourage them when they are sparring (and you are watching) to keep their morale up.  If this encouragement becomes a distraction, you may impede their performance, so please keep this in mind.  If you are asked to CEASE any ‘encouragement’ by a Panel Member, then please do so immediately.

Do NOT impede another student’s progress by your position on the mat or your lack of speed to carry out your technique.  Be fully aware at all times of your surroundings and that of your fellow students, to enable you to select a mat position suitable for the progress of everyone.

FINALLY, REMEMBER! The Panel have seen EVERY trick in the book for people trying to gain a rest or reprieve.  They know exactly when you are struggling to perform or remember and they know when you are trying it on.  If you think you will beat them and convince them otherwise.  You are WRONG. Good luck. 

​The MMA Team.

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